Gas Safety Checks:
The Gas Safe register has said it is advising its registered engineers to suspend all Gas Safety inspections until they have received more government guidance – the Health and Safety Executive is seeking clarification on the procedures going forward.
Given that everyone has been advised to stay home and that some homes will be in self-isolation because of the infection, the COVID-19 pandemic will make it impossible in some cases, at least in the short term, for landlords to arrange an annual safety check. Gaining safe access will be compounded by the reduced availability of the gas engineers themselves and their reluctance to enter tenanted properties.
Although Gas Safe acknowledge that inspections will have to continue, and anticipate a solution soon, confirmation will be issued as soon as possible.
In the meantime Gas Safe says:
“We had already suspended all of our Inspection Events for the time being, and are looking at suitable alternatives to attending an event in person. This work will continue, and we will communicate details of these as soon as they have been decided.”
The HSE have stated that:
“Landlords have a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check.
“If you anticipate difficulties in gaining access as the COVID-19 situation progresses, you have the flexibility to carry out annual gas safety checks two months before the deadline date. Landlords can have the annual gas safety checks at their properties carried out any time from 10 to 12 calendar months after the previous check and still retain the original deadline date as if the check had been carried out exactly 12 months after the previous check.
“You are encouraged to arrange your annual gas safety checks as early as possible, as a contingency against tenants being in self-isolation for a period of 14 days (in line with current guidelines), or gas engineers being unavailable due to illness. The two-month period to carry out annual gas safety checks should provide adequate resilience in most situations.
“In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g. persistent refusal of access due to vulnerable tenants self-isolating, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law, and that you are seeking to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are able. This will need to include records of communication with the tenant, and details of your engineers attempts to gain access.”
In other words, given that it is a legal requirement to carry out gas safety inspections, and God forbid, there would be recriminations if an accident occurred when a certificate is out of date, landlords are still expected to prove that they have made every effort to have an inspection done when it is due.